Rome ("Città Nuova"), 10 November 1992

Commentary of the Word of Life:

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Rom 15:7)

These words are some of Paul’s final guidance in his letter to the Christians in Rome. This community, like many others spread throughout the Graeco-Roman world, was composed of believers who came partly from pagan and partly from Jewish origins. Therefore their mindsets, their cultural backgrounds and their spiritual sensitivities were very different. Such diversity gave an opening to judgements, prejudices, discrimination and intolerance towards others that were certainly not in accord with the mutual welcome that God wanted them to have.

To help them overcome these difficulties, Paul found there was no better way than to make them reflect upon the grace of their conversion. The fact that Jesus had called them to faith, giving the gift of his Spirit, was tangible proof of the love with which he had welcomed each one of them. Despite their past lives and the difference in their backgrounds, Jesus had welcomed them together into one body.

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God

Paul's words remind us of one of the most moving aspects of Jesus' love. It is the love that, during his life on earth, led Jesus always to welcome everyone, especially the most marginalized, those most in need, the furthest away. It is the love that led Jesus to offer his trust, confidence, friendship to everyone, breaking down, one by one, the barriers that human pride and selfishness had built in the society of his time. Jesus was the manifestation of the Father’s totally welcoming love for each one of us, which we, in our turn, ought to have for one another. This is the first thing God wills from us. For this reason we can give the Father no greater glory than by trying to welcome each other in the same way that Jesus welcomed us.

Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God

How can we live the Word of Life this month? It draws our attention to one of our commonest forms of selfishness and, let's face it, one of the most difficult to overcome: the tendency to isolate ourselves, to discriminate, to marginalize, to exclude the other because he or she is different and could disturb our tranquillity.

Let’s try to live this Word of Life first of all inside our families, associations, communities, groups at work, by ridding ourselves of our judgements, discrimination, prejudice, resentment, intolerance towards one neighbour or another. These things come so easily and so often, chilling and spoiling human relations. Like a pall of ill will, they block mutual love.

And then in society in general, let’s resolve to witness to the welcoming love of Jesus to any neighbour the Lord puts next to us, especially those social selfishness most easily tends to exclude or marginalize.

Welcoming the other, the one different from us, lies at the basis of Christian love. It is the starting point, the first step to building the civilization of love, the culture of communion, that Jesus is calling us to above all today.

Chiara Lubich

 

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Published in 1992

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